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Haunting Memories

By: Becky Seitel
Survivor: Bass, Jack

“Stop! High Voltage!”

Unfortunately, this warning was not enough to prevent prisoners from committing suicide on the electric fence surrounding the concentration camp.

Jack Bass recalls that the thought of suicide was  entertained by almost everyone, if only for a brief time. It was born from the helplessness of the harsh environment, the hunger, the disease, the fear of the unknown.

“Many people ended it all because the suffering was too great,” he says. “They chose what we called ‘running to the fence.’ They would fling themselves on the fence and die immediately as the electricity ran through their bodies. They would hang there until the current was turned off the next day. In yet one more act of cruelty by the Nazis, their bodies would remain on the ground for days.

“After a while, I became numb to that painful sight of death … at least during the day. But during my nightly walk to the outhouse, I had to turn away. The nights were always cold and foggy. The gloom that settled over me was intensified by a lifeless form stuck to the electric fence.”